When you’re trying to scavenge up healthy food options, many unhealthy ones often present themselves in disguise. Choose whole foods and always check an item’s ingredients list to be aware of what you’re putting in your body. Here are some foods to double check before adding to the grocery cart.
1. Yogurt With Additives
Some yogurts can be very beneficial to your health, but some contain components that create a less-than-healthy snack. Processed fruit toppings and flavor add-ins typically contain added sugars and preservatives, which can have a negative impact on your health. If you eat yogurt regularly, try opting for plain, unflavored yogurt that provides good bacteria for your gut without all the added ingredients. If you’re looking for a flavor boost, add in some fresh fruit or honey.
2. Flavored Instant Oatmeal
Instant oatmeal may be a quick and easy breakfast option in a time crunch, but it can contain surprising amounts of sugar and added ingredients to improve the taste and shelf life of these little packets of goodness. If oatmeal is one of your favorite breakfasts, go for plain varieties rather than flavored instant oatmeal. However, your best option is always homemade oatmeal garnished with fresh fruit for added flavor.
3. Pre-Made Salads
Have you ever found yourself ordering a salad at a restaurant to avoid the other unhealthy options? Or packing a store-bought salad for an on-the-go lunch instead of a sandwich? Surprisingly, many salads are not always the healthiest decision. Your choice of dressing or toppings can play a large part in the overall nutritional value, especially considering the added sugar, salt, and fat. If ordering a salad, ask for one with no dressing—or low-fat dressing on the side—and include fresh toppings, such as fruit, boiled eggs, nuts, and avocado, for more flavor.
4. Breakfast Cereals
Breakfast cereals are another go-to breakfast option, especially for kids. Watch out for refined grains, added sugars, and artificial ingredients! These result in a processed product with a side of some adverse health effects. If cereal is your breakfast of choice, choose a variety that features whole grains and a hearty amount of protein and fiber. Other healthy early morning options include one-ingredient items such as fruit, milk, or eggs.
5. Gluten-Free Products
Gluten-free eating has been all the rage lately. However, many gluten-free foods can contain unhealthy additives or substitutes. When compared to wheat flour, many substitutes used in these products have lower nutritional densities. Gluten-free items can also lack macro and micronutrients such as iron, calcium, and most importantly, fiber. If you follow a gluten-free diet, check the nutrient compositions to ensure the product contains adequate fiber.
Now that you have a quick run-down of what to look for in so-called “healthy foods,” you can begin making smarter food choices. If you would like to learn more or need help creating a safe and nutritious meal plan, schedule an appointment with your primary care physician at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group, who can provide additional resources and help you achieve your goals.
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